Gneuss’s Typology of Liturgical Materials in Anglo-Saxon England
In light of The post below on early medieval liturgy as the chief locus for innovative Scripture interpretation, I’ll post here in a slightly modified form something I’ve had up elsewhere:
The most comprehensive resource I know for getting a quick handle on the variety of early medieval liturgical texts is a 1985 article printed in a festschrift for Peter Clemoes: Helmut Gneuss, “Liturgical books in Anglo‑Saxon England and their Old English terminology,” pages 91-141 in Learning and literature in Anglo-Saxon England : studies presented to Peter Clemoes on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday, edited by Michael Lapidge and Helmut Gneuss (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985).
What makes this article invaluable is that Dr. Gneuss has laid out
the major types of books according to liturgical use, then categorized
every surviving A-S liturgical sources known to him within his
typology. Here are his headings from page 99:
|BOOKS FOR THE MASS|
|A||Missal and Sacramentary|
|‑ Mass Lectionaries ‑|
|D||Gospel‑Book and Gospel Lectionary|
|BOOKS FOR THE OFFICE|
|‑ Office Lectionaries ‑|
|O||Books with special offices|
|BOOKS FOR THE CHAPTER OFFICE|
|Q||Regula S. Benedicti and Chrodegang’s Regula canonicorum|
|EPISCOPAL BOOKS AND RITUALS|
|W||Prayer‑Books and Private Prayers|
This set of typologies is incredibly helpful for thinking through
different kinds of liturgical materials. The danger in seeing a
typology like this, however, is assuming that since these categories
exist epistemologically that they exist in reality—that each section
represents a kind of book one might find in a monastic library. This is
not the case… Inevitably, certain kinds of material travel together.
For instance, it is quite common for a “Psalter” to be much more than
Gnuess’s category H. Indeed, most physical psalters contain H (the Book
of Psalms) but this is preceded by X (a liturgical kalendar) and
followed by K (a hymnal).
Nevertheless, Gneuss’s categories are a great place to begin for
learning about the range of early medieval liturgical materials.